If there is one thing we love it’s opening a refrigerator and seeing it glistening, tidy, and well stocked. Alas, when we opened our fridge this morning this is not what we saw. Instead we were staring at leftovers that probably should have already been eaten, half-opened containers of too many things, questionable expiration dates, and drawers collecting grit from our CSA vegetables (those root vegetables do grow in the dirt after all). But then we remembered that November 15th is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day(!) and all was well.
So in preparation for Thanksgiving, in order to have room for all of your ingredients (and leftovers!) here are our best tips for how to clean, organize, and maintain your refrigerator. You too will now experience the joy of opening that door and hearing angels sing.
Step One: Empty the fridge categorically. Most things can stand 15-minutes on the countertop and won’t spoil during that time. When you empty the fridge, sort things so they’re ready to be put back properly.
Step Two: If it’s growing something questionable, out it goes (compost + recycle!) . Some of us don’t even know what is in our fridge. You know what I mean. Way in the back, a jar of something that once resembled salsa but now grows a misleading fuzz. It happens to the best of us. Empty the container and either reuse or recycle it. Glass jars make great leftover containers too. For the moldy fruits, veggies, and bread — they can go straight to your compost heap or your Fresh Air!
Step Three: Expiration dates can use a second thought. Of course, we’re not suggesting you eat that sliced turkey or unpasteurized dairy after their use-by dates but there are plenty of other items that are perfectly fine long after the date on the jar. We waste so much food worldwide, particularly in the United States, but sometimes it’s because we assume that the date on the label is a hard limit. Learn more about expiry dates and what is and isn’t generally safe here.
Step Four: Warm, soapy water works best. Any removable parts of your refrigerator can be washed in a sink of warm, soapy water. And you can use your In A Nutshell sponges to clean up the gunk that is stuck to the inside of the fridge! Also, use an old dish towel to wipe things down and dry, instead of wasting any paper towels. And if there are any tiny crevices that need attention, our Micro Manager gets into those tight spots.
Step Five: Organize by cooking temperature. Your fridge should generally look like this
TOP SHELF foods that don’t require cooking such as leftovers
MIDDLE SHELVES dairy products such as milk, butter, yogurt and cheeses
BOTTOM SHELF the coldest part of the fridge, this is where your raw meat and fish should go!
DRAWERS fruits, vegetables, and herbs (be sure to use reusable storage bags) SIDE DOORS since this is the warmest place with the most unstable temperature, here you should put things that are easily preserved such as jams, juice, and condiments
And voila! Now, if only it could stay this way.